DEAR ABBY: My father-in-law, who lives out of state, regularly makes crude jokes and comments about his sex life or my sex life in my presence and in the presence of my wife, his wife and others. He once commented to me that he would be excited to see his daughter, my wife, in bed with a woman.
I have expressed to my wife and mother-in-law how uncomfortable it is, but he doesn’t stop the comments, even when confronted. He claims he wants to be close to me but refuses to address the concerns of his wife, daughter and son-in-law. It’s reached the point that I try to avoid my in-laws when they visit, including volunteering to work extra shifts at work.
It concerns me that he occasionally makes these tasteless comments around my young daughters. I think he’s a dirty old man. I can’t stand being around him, but my wife and mother-in-law overlook his comments and think the world of him. Am I overreacting? How do I continue to interact with him given my distaste for him? — CREEPED OUT IN GEORGIA
DEAR CREEPED OUT: I don’t blame you for being creeped out. Your father-in-law appears to be not only a “dirty old man” but an obsessive one. While your wife and her mother may be prepared to overlook his inappropriate behavior, I don’t think your young daughters should be subjected to it. For that matter, neither should you be. If your FIL wants to be “close” to you, the price he will have to pay will be to watch his mouth, or you will take the girls to a park, a lunch, a movie, etc. while he’s there.
DEAR ABBY: My sister “Elaine” and I live in different states. Until last year, we were communicating by phone and text. She and her family were set to visit me, but all of a sudden Elaine stopped responding to my texts and phone calls. I finally texted her asking if she was still planning to visit. She texted me back four words: “No. We’re not coming,” and we haven’t communicated since.
This isn’t the first time my sister has cut me off. Usually, after a few months of silence, she will call me and act like nothing happened, offering no apology or explanation. This hadn’t happened in years, so I thought Elaine had finally grown out of it. I don’t know why she’s mad at me. I could speculate, but I resent playing this game. Having a relationship with her feels like walking through a minefield. I never know what I might say that will set her off.
I have considered writing her a letter telling her how hurtful her behavior is, but then I feel like it might enable her. I’m also afraid I’ll say more that she will take offense to. Should I write her or just write her off? — ENOUGH ALREADY IN FLORIDA
DEAR ENOUGH: I think you should do both. Your sister Elaine is a pain in the posterior. Write and tell her how childish and rude her silent treatment has been and that you have had your fill of it. THEN write her off.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.